As summer winds down and gives way to red leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, you might be thinking about breaking out the flannels and jeans in preparation for fall. However, fall preparation should not be limited to changes in wardrobes and lattes. The cool weather presents a great opportunity for homeowners to prepare their homes for the colder months ahead.

During the winter, homes that did not receive proper maintenance are more susceptible to lasting damage from the elements. Repairs become increasingly difficult due to the harsh weather conditions. To stop major problems from happening to your home this winter, you should take preventative measures by performing maintenance on your home now.  Below you will find five essential steps all homeowners should take to ensure that their homes are ready to make the transition into winter:

1. Drain Exterior Water Pipes.

Checking and draining exterior water pipes can prevent serious pipe damage when the temperature outside drops below freezing. Run water until you are sure all pipes are drained, and turn off valves leading to exterior water pipes.  Doing so can prevent excess water from freezing in the winter.

2. Ensure Your Insulation Was Properly Installed.

Improperly installed insulation can cause serious water damage to your home. Run up to the attic and make sure your insulation is installed with vapor barriers facing towards the living space. It is an easy check, and can save you from months of repair headaches.

3. Check Your Gutters.

Neglecting your gutters can result in expensive repairs: foundation damage, landscape damage, and even interior damage. This is especially true in the winter, as ice dams can occur leading to water seeping into your home. Clean out your gutters and inspect gutter joints and brackets. Check to see if parts need to be repaired or replaced. Making simple repairs now will be a lot less expensive than having to make major replacements down the line.

4. Roof Inspection.

A healthy roof is essential to making it through the winter months without serious damage to your home. Hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof for any loose or missing shingles. Replacing faulty shingles ahead of time can prevent more serious damage that can be caused by a leaking roof.

5. Window Maintenance.

Windows are vital to retaining heat in your house. Fall offers a chance to inspect windows and doorframes for faulty caulking and sealing. Caulking vulnerable openings around windows is a cheap fix that can prevent cracking, mold, and heating loss. Inspecting and repairing the windows should be a routine step in your annual fall maintenance routine.

Performing these simple tasks during the fall months can prevent serious damage later down the line. Fall is a wonderful time, but take a break from the festivities to make sure your house is properly maintained and ready for winter.